Argentina’s main political coalitions creak as deadline to register for presidential elections approaches

News Analysis 9 June

Argentina’s main political coalitions creak as deadline to register for presidential elections approaches

by Clara Agustoni 

Disputes inside Argentina’s (CCC-/C) main political coalitions, Frente de Todos (FdT) and Juntos, have left them at the brink of fracturing, just before the 14 June deadline to register for the 22 October presidential elections, three sources familiar with the matter said.

There is a chance that ruling coalition FdT ceases to exist due to the conflicts between President Alberto Fernandez and the factions led by Vice President Cristina Kirchner and by Minister of the Economy Sergio Massa, the first and second sources said. Massa and Kirchner are said to be negotiating in the last couple of weeks to form a new coalition that will present a single presidential platform for the primaries. President Fernandez is not part of these negotiations, the sources said.

Former governor of the province of Buenos Aires, Daniel Scioli, as well as Cabinet Chief Agustin Rossi, both close to Alberto Fernandez, have expressed their intentions to run in the 13 August presidential primaries and they refuse to withdraw their candidacies to negotiate a consensus presidential platform for FdT, as Kirchner and Massa want, said the first source. The situation has become "impossible, with nobody willing to capitulate," the source said. 

“The truth is that FdT does not have a candidate that is strong enough to gather the entire coalition’s consensus,” said the second source. Other potential candidates in the FdT coalition include Massa, Minister of Domestic Affairs Eduardo de Pedro and social leader Juan Grabois, according to local press reports. All of them have voting intentions of around 15% and fail to capture the 25%-30% core support that Cristina Kirchner is able to gather, the second source said. Kirchner has announced she won’t run for president.

Similarly, the Juntos coalition is divided between a faction supporting Patricia Bullrich and the group that backs Horacio Rodriguez Larreta, said the second and third sources. Rodriguez Larreta is willing to broaden the coalition with the incorporation of other political forces, such as the Federal Peronism of Cordoba’s governor Juan Schiaretti, but Bullrich and former president Mauricio Macri are against this strategy, the second source said. Conflict inside Juntos has escalated rapidly this week due to this issue, the source said.

Nonetheless, “chances of a breakup in Juntos are minimal,” said the third source. Macri and Bullrich are working to avoid that and this week they have accepted Larreta’s suggestion to incorporate Jose Luis Espert, from the libertarian party, to Juntos, in an effort to wind down confrontation levels, the third source stated.

The only one benefitting from these disputes in FdT and Juntos is La Libertad Avanza candidate Javier Milei, said the second source. “Argentines are angry and disappointed with politicians and these conflicts for power only reinforce their willingness to bet for the anti-system alternative,” the source said.

The most recent poll of consultancy firm Aresco shows Juntos with a 29.1% voting intention, followed by La Libertad Avanza with 27.6% and leaving FdT in third place with a 27.4% voting intention. Measured by candidate, for the Juntos coalition Bullrich obtains 14.7%, while Larreta gets 14.4%, according to the Aresco poll. For FdT, Eduardo De Pedro gets 15.8% and Scioli, 11.6%, said the report.

De Pedro is seen as Kirchner’s favorite candidate, even though the vice president has not yet said who she will support, said the second source. Another recent poll, from consultancy firm Analogias, shows FdT with a 27.5% voting intention, followed by Juntos with 26.8% and La Libertad Avanza with 21.2%.

Coalitions will have to register to participate in this year’s presidential elections by 14 June, and they will have to present the candidates that will run in the primaries by 24 June. The primaries will be held on 13 August and the general elections, on 22 October. Presidential debates are scheduled for 1 and 8 October. A runoff, in case it is needed, is expected for 19 November.

Spokespeople for President Fernandez and Sergio Massa did not reply to requests for comment. Spokespeople for Patricia Bullrich and Horacio Rodriguez Larreta declined to comment. 

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